The planned merger between ThyssenKrupp and Tata Steel will soon be the subject of an in-depth investigation by the European Commission, according to an online report by the BBC.

The European Commission, it is claimed, is concerned that customers will face higher prices and fewer suppliers should the merger go ahead.

If it does go ahead, the newly merged business – to be known as ThyssenKrupp Tata Steel and headquartered in the Netherlands – will be Europe's second-biggest steelmaker; the biggest is ArcelorMittal.

The BBC report quotes the European Commission's competition commissioner Margarethe Vestage, who said that steel is a crucial input for many of the goods used in everyday life. "Competitive steel prices are vital for the European economy," she said.

A representative of ThyssenKrupp said that an in-depth investigation was only to be expected, given the size of the deal and that the company would work closely with the Commission.

It is thought that some asset sales may be needed to win approval for the merger, claims the BBC report.

The European Commission has until 19 March to reach a decision.